Riders celebrate end of mountain season

Pat Pearson

Balmy mid-40 temperatures last weekend brought out Hawaiian shirts, bikinis and leis to Marquette Mountain Saturday, March 28 at the NMU Ski and Snowboard Club’s surf park competition.

re-Surfpark randy

Students, locals and people from out of town came to enjoy the weather and surf park festivities at the mountain.

To coordinate such an event required understanding of how to take things step by step and was also a lesson about networking, said the Ski and Snowboard Club president and junior public relations and Spanish major Michelle Engberg.

“There’s no correct way to set up this event. It’s really about reaching out to people who want to help make this happen,” Engberg said. “I’ll contact somebody who then will put me in touch with a totally different person who is in a position to make contributions.”

A total of 35 skiers and snowboarders signed up to participate this year. Crowds of spectators sitting in lawn chairs lined the rail jam course to cheer on the riders. Though the event is primarily about having a good time, Joe Niepokoj, vice president of the Ski and Snowboard Club and junior marketing major, there is a competitive side to the surf park’s main event, the rail jam.

“Both the people watching and the riders really got into the ski and snowboarder jam,” Niepokoj said. “Everyone just fed off each other. When one person lands a big trick, it motivates the next rider to push their limits, which made for a really exciting event.” 

One of the main highlights of the event that got both the crowd and riders into the jam was junior accounting major Randy Kelty amping the level of competition, said Niepokoj.

“Watching Randy do a 450 gap to the tube was just incredible to see,” Niepokoj said. “Technical tricks like that are fun for people to watch and also motivate other riders to step their game up.”

With skis and snowboards on the line for first place winners of the respective jams, judging had to be fair and unbiased, said Reid Jerovsek, one of the four judges and junior management major.

“We’re all friends, which obviously makes a conflict of interest. We each had to disconnect ourselves from that and focus on a set criteria for judging,” Jerovsek said. “Often, people get annoyed with spin to win, so we were more looking for style, not necessarily big spin tricks but larger amplitude of tricks and also how smooth and graceful they look.”

First place in the snowboard jam was senior human centered design major Bret Guild, who took home the latest Rome Artifact snowboard. Senior entrepreneurship major Elliot Karafa placed first in the skier jam, winning a pair of 2016 Rossignol Soul 7 skis.

Next year the Ski and Snowboard Club hope to add more events at Marquette Mountain, Niepokoj said.

“The end of the year event works well because people want to go out and celebrate the end of the ski season,” Niepokoj said. “Next year, we might want to do a preseason event, maybe in October or November, because that’s when people get excited to go skiing again.”